Man of Letters
March 16, 2010

This is the way it happens. They sit in your class poring over Dante’s Inferno or grousing good-naturedly about the silent film you’ve insisted they admire. They graduate to crawling through the mud at Ranger School or learning how to fly a Chinook in Alabama. They write to let you know about the milestones and about the weirdness; they ask what’s new on your end and tell you not to work “too hard.” They stop by the office whenever they’re back in town for a classmate’s wedding or some other event.

Eight Pieces, Really One: Iran, Israel's Military Doctrine, The President And One Dumb Jewish Woman, The Wages of Copenhagen, The Christmas Terrorist, We Should All Stop Talking About The Middle East
December 26, 2009

Jews usually go out to the movies on Christmas ... and then they go out to eat "Chinese." I've spent it writing. Below is my harvest. I wish you all good cheer. Here are the motifs of my writing day. Alas, none of them cheery. 1. THE REAL GRIM REAPER: HOLY DAY VICTIMS IN IRAQ AND PAKISTAN 2. COLD COMMON SENSE ABOUT IRAN FROM, MIRABILI DICTU, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" 3. A WISE EUROPEAN FOREIGN MINISTER: "WE SHOULD SHUT UP ABOUT THE MIDDLE EAST" 4. A SOBER "TIMES" PIECE ON ISRAELI MILITARY DOCTRINE 5.

Surging and Awakening
May 20, 2009

  The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 By Thomas E. Ricks (Penguin Press, 394 pp., $27.95) I. FROM CENTRALITY TO banality: perhaps no other event in modern American history has gone from being contentious to being forgotten as quickly as the war in Iraq. Remember the war? It consumed a trillion American dollars, devoured a hundred thousand Iraqi lives, squandered a country’s reputation, and destroyed an American presidency.

Knowledge Gap
April 30, 2007

Maybe it was a slip of the tongue. But, when Nancy Pelosi confessed last year that she felt "sad" about President Bush's claims that Al Qaeda operates in Iraq, she seemed to be disputing what every American soldier in Iraq, every Al Qaeda operative, and anyone who reads a newspaper already knew to be true. (When I questioned him about Pelosi's assertion, a U.S. officer in Ramadi responded, incredulously, that Al Qaeda had just held a parade in his sector.) Perhaps the House speaker was alluding to the discredited claim that Al Qaeda operated in Iraq before the war. Perhaps.

Best Intentions
June 28, 2004

THE DICTATORS IN the Arab-Muslim world, and those in Europe who tolerate them, can now rest easier. The Syrian dictator will not be chased into a "spider hole." And the Iranian theocracy will not be sacked by soldiers from West Virginia and Indiana and Vermont. The Iranians will have to secure their own liberty; we know better than to provide it to strangers sure to second- guess the morning after. Yes, America is embattled in Iraq. But its leaders took up the sword against Arab-Muslim troubles and dared to think that tyranny was not fated and inevitable for the Arabs.

Split Decision
May 05, 2003

Last week, an Iraqi exile named Mohammed Mohsen Zubaidi strode into Baghdad and declared himself mayor, meeting with local sheiks and promising them potable drinking water and electricity. “With your help, we can manage our country by ourselves,” The Washington Post quoted him as saying. Barbara Bodine, the former U.S.

Land's End
April 21, 2003

Saturday: A friend from Kurdsat, the TV station of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which rules this part of northern Iraq, called yesterday to say his friends in Kalar, at the southeastern tip of northern Iraq, will launch a big offensive today against the Iraqi army's 5th Corps. So we speed from Sulaymaniya through the mountains and around the lake at Darbandi Khan, down to the rolling plains and palm trees around Kalar.